This is a test, this is only a test of your parenting skills…..

A reminder of God’s grace and a reminder of a time in which life was a lot less hectic!

I often find myself asking if this season of life is some kind of test that I am flunking at miserable or is this just life with trauma survivors that are struggling to reach adulthood?

Currently we have a 17 year old that is stumbling through relationships with the opposite sex and although he was ecstatic to be 18 when he turned 17 he is now in that panic of I don’t want to be an adult. We also have 2 boys that are 13 and are struggling with all those amazing hormones (that is the curse right? Hormones affect their everything and shift every second it seems!) and their own transition into being middle schoolers and finding their nitch in life, while still clinging to their younger selves!

To say that life is challenging right now may be more than an understatement, but instead an out right curse! Right now it feels like I am getting pumbled by rocks whenever they are around. Nothing is getting their attention!! We are in the middle of hockey season with late nights and a lot of waiting around between the two different ages levels and their games. I am doing everything I can to improve the situation by preparing food and taking it with us, taking kids in sets working on school work and chores with one group before getting them ready for their game or getting them back all sweaty and getting them showered and then through their chores and homework. Plus they have fund raising for their summer camp at church, fundraising for the mountain bike season that is coming, supporting my husband as he steps out to start working with my family on medal signs, and it goes on!

Keeping up with everything has completely drained my cup! I have been getting time alone in the bible a couple of days a week and I know my prayer warrior is wearing holes in her knees keeping our family in front of the Lord…… but what do you do when all your efforts appear fruitless?

God has really been shaping and pruning our family right now! We have walked through issues of extreme disrespect with the reason it is occurring is “My mom made eat all my eggs today! It made me mad so I just flipped my classmate off because she was making me even mader”, getting 0’s on all assignments due to an unwillingness to take the test seriously, and announcing that you are dating a girl on Facebook before you have told your parents you are dating said girl. How do you respond to everything when they are hitting you all at the same time?

The best way I can describe it is being purposeful! After attempting to roleplay several scenarios about disrespect to learn that the child is routinely giving 70% at school! So I have to think out of the box and decide that 70% cooked dinner would make a huge impact on the kid that his entire existence is based on food. This did the job because for the first time he is able to see how giving 70% is not what he is capable of, keeping one of the top Goalies out for a game maybe even two because he is unable to complete any task fully including school assignments, and realizing that dating a girl in a different state comes with benefits of never getting to be physically alone with the girl!

I had to make the choice to remain purposeful in my interactions with these kiddos as well work very hard to keep on our scheduled routine. Ray and I are often reminding each other that “hey they are better off here than where they were” or “that is their autism talking, don’t take it personal”! The life we live is by no means an easy one, however we are called by God to live it and he has never let us down, so he will keep us in his grace and favor!

Good Monday Morning

What a great reminder of our position and calling!

Good Monday morning everyone! I pray you had a great weekend full of family, fun, and time with our savior!

Our pastor is working his way through Romans and yesterday he preached on 2:1-11. One of the big things he discussed was the Greek word Krino which translates to Judge. One of the big points he hit one was that we need to learn to use discernment when we do judge.

What does that mean for us? We need to always remember that we are not the judges for our peers. We are to judge what we want to be around, however never judge their sins as we don’t want them to judge ours.
Great point, but what does that mean for our judgment involving our children….. wow hold up! How do we correct them and point them to the Lord without judging? I took a few hours to pray and spend in the Lord’s presence on this topic. This is where God took me……

We need to keep focus on the purpose we are here to serve! God has called us to foster, mentor, and mold these fragile children into productive, loving, serving adults so that they can not only have a better life, but stop the cycle of abuse and dysfunction that they come from!

Ok, so that seems like a great calling, however where does discernment come into the picture? We are called to give them love and guidance, however we often take their choices to heart making it personal! I know I live this every day! I respect our teachers immensely, so when our 13 year old boy refuses to cooperate in class stating he has done enough, calls staff names, or goes walk about through campus invading classrooms or personal belongings I struggle to not go to evil thoughts and fight my desire to run away screaming. I have to remember two things….1st he has Autism and that is the reason for a lot of these behaviors and 2nd we are to review what he did that was wrong, give him his negative consequence, and then move on! Yeah so that is next to impossible right? What he does reflects on us an we don’t want to be seen as a horrible parent who let’s their child behave in this inappropriate way.

I have to stop my self from placing judgement on myself for others! We all do this, right? I can’t be the only one who does this right? At some point in our past we have worried about what others are thinking of us. God really, really has been pushing the discernment piece with me!

First, I have to remember that I am not responsible for my child’s choices and second, the people I fear are judging my parenting skills know my son’s history, they know Ray and I as parents and have joined our team to help this child.

I need to keep this in mind all day every day! God is the one our children will be judged by and we will be judged on our willingness to guide them in the right direction!

Today I pray that we as foster parents, are able to discern those moments in which we need to judge and when we need to turn the other cheek!

Family Challenges and Grace

Shout out to Shannon at Irish Luck Designs for my great new logo! I love it and I love her! Thank you cousin for helping me on my journey!

Family…I know it is a complicated group of people for everyone involved, right, however adding fostering and adoption of kids with special needs can make the entire group even more complicated! I am blessed that I have family that understands my complicated family. Yeah I don’t see them all very often (I mean years in between and several new children often times), however I know if I reach out they are there for me!

Some are more accepting of my kiddos and their issues, while others will help with verbal support and prayers. I think my understanding that the life we are living is not for everyone and we can’t make people understand the huge meltdowns, rude comments, or dirty looks that is often going on with the kids, is one of the major reasons it works for my family. Most of them can be around for a dinner or sporting event, but to be there day in and day out is challenging (trust me it can shake us to our very core some days)!

We have family members that just don’t get it and struggle with our choice to follow God’s leading. These are the harder relationships to keep growing and the ones that stress me out when we have to get together. In my logical mind I know I can’t control the kids behaviors and even though we have prepared the kids to the best of our ability we know there will still be needs that we can’t meeting in these settings, which means there will be meltdowns and rude behaviors, which will trigger the other family members and then the cycle will start. Repeat, repeat, repeat….

I also know that we will pay for these encounters for days after with our boys, however it gives us the opportunity to talk through how family works and how every member is an individual that can handle different things. We try to focus on the fact that they are still loved by these family members, how they struggle with their ability to show their love and they just don’t understand how to appropriately interact with autism or explosive disorder or the list goes on.

I am always so impressed how our fragile children are able to accept these answers and to still vocalize their love for their family members even when it was rough when they were together! Never underestimate your child’s ability to love!

I know those of us that have answered the call to be foster parents are working with children that have experienced trauma on some level, unfortunately it is often by their loved ones that are meant to protect and love them! It is our challenge to help these kiddos see what family is really meant to be and how to navigate the complexity it comes with. Often times early in their placement we are struggling to not only create new understanding of the concept of family, but we are also having to deal with their bio families continued contact, while the judicial system works. This is always tough, because as the child begins to understand family and what that means they will be faced with the lacking of their bio family! Oh this is a challenging point in their foster journey not only for them but for us as well.

This is the point in which we have to switch paths and start talking about how their family members love them, they just don’t have the skills to show them, to protect them, to be present with them, etc. THIS IS HARD! As a parent who knows how much pain, trauma, neglect, heartache, these people have caused a young child we have to stuff down deep our yearnings to point out how horrible their parents are and instead save some sacred amount of love for their parents to keep them from struggling in the future when they are the moms and dads that are making little mistakes as they learn to parent!

Know you are not alone on this journey and that I am always willing to answer questions, give advice, and just listen when you need to pour out the hurt and frustration that comes with family interactions.

My new logo created by the very talented cousin Shannon Mead from Irish Luck Designs!